Clan Bell North America

Bell of the Borders

Bell South

CREST: A hand holding a dagger, paleways proper

MOTTO: I beir the bel.

SEPTS: Baeill, Bail, Baill, Bails, Bale, Bales, Ball, Bayle, Bayles, Beal, Beale, Beales, Beall, Bealles, Bealls, Beals, Beel, Beele, Beeles, Beels, Behel, Behel, Beil, Beill, Beils, Bel, Bell, Belle, Bellis, Biehl, Biel, Biels, Bile, Biles, Bill

A Short History:
The Borders family Bell may well descend from a Norman follower of David I who reigned until 1153 and was, by the end of the thirteenth century, well established in Dumfriesshire, Berwickshire and Perthshire. The name may derive from the French ‘Bel,’ meaning fair or handsome. The Bells participated in the Borders disturbances as one of the riding clans of border reivers. The Bells, along with other Borders families, became increasingly turbulent throughout the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The Crown’s determination to pacify the Borders led in 1517 to Clan Bell receiving royal letters of warning to keep the peace. The tower of Blackethouse was destroyed in a raid by the English in 1547. After the union of the Crowns in 1603, the family suffered much the same fate as the other border reivers; many emigrated to the new plantation lands in Ulster where the name is among the twenty most numerous in that province. Although the Bells were a Borders family, there are others of this name who are of Highland origin, and in that case, Bell is held to be a Sept of MacMillan.

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